When they reached their ship, Ed gazed out at the bay. It was black. The sky was black, but the bay was even blacker. It was a slick, oily blackness that glowed and reflected the moonlight like a black jewel. Ed saw the tiny specks of light around the edges of the bay where he knew ships must be docked, and at different points within the bay where vessels would be anchored. The lights were pale and sickly yellow when compared with the bright blue-white sparkle of the stars overhead, but the stars glinted hard as diamonds, cold as ice. Pg. 26.
Thus was this expedition finished...after having, by its event, strongly evinced this important truth; that though prudence, intrepidity and perseverence united are not exempted from the blows of adverse fortune, yet in a long series of transactions they usually rise superior to its power, and in the end rarely fail of proving successful.Voyage Around The World, 1751
You are a reasonably civil, complaisant creature on dry land,' said Stephen, 'but the moment you are afloat you become pragmatical and absolute, a bashaw - do this, do that, gluppit the prawling strangles, there - no longer a social being at all. It is no doubt the effect of the long-continued habit of command; but it cannot be considered amiable.
I phoned the Admiral back.'It's no use, Admiral, the French speak nothing but French.'There was a short pause on the end of the line then his voice rattled into life like a sabre.'They're lying, Tim!''What?''The French Navy must by law speak English, as English is the international maritime language of the sea.''Has anyone told the French that?'The line went dead for a moment before he thundered, 'Yes Nelson. At the battle of Trafalgar.'I tried to stifle an irresistibly British giggle not knowing if the Admiral was making a joke or not. I got it right. He was serious.
He walked straight out of college into the waiting arms of the Navy. They gave him an intelligence test. The first question on the math part had to do with boats on a river: Port Smith is 100 miles upstream of Port Jones. The river flows at 5 miles per hour. The boat goes through water at 10 miles per hour. How long does it take to go from Port Smith to Port Jones? How long to come back?Lawrence immediately saw that it was a trick question. You would have to be some kind of idiot to make the facile assumption that the current would add or subtract 5 miles per hour to or from the speed of the boat. Clearly, 5 miles per hour was nothing more than the average speed. The current would be faster in the middle of the river and slower at the banks. More complicated variations could be expected at bends in the river. Basically it was a question of hydrodynamics, which could be tackled using certain well-known systems of differential equations. Lawrence dove into the problem, rapidly (or so he thought) covering both sides of ten sheets of paper with calculations. Along the way, he realized that one of his assumptions, in combination with the simplified Navier Stokes equations, had led him into an exploration of a particularly interesting family of partial differential equations. Before he knew it, he had proved a new theorem. If that didn't prove his intelligence, what would?Then the time bell rang and the papers were collected. Lawrence managed to hang onto his scratch paper. He took it back to his dorm, typed it up, and mailed it to one of the more approachable math professors at Princeton, who promptly arranged for it to be published in a Parisian mathematics journal.Lawrence received two free, freshly printed copies of the journal a few months later, in San Diego, California, during mail call on board a large ship called the U.S.S. Nevada. The ship had a band, and the Navy had given Lawrence the job of playing the glockenspiel in it, because their testing procedures had proven that he was not intelligent enough to do anything else.
I suddenly felt like the Grinch feels when he discovers what Chrismas is all about. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I had a purpose being in the Navy. It wasn't about money and rank or prestige. It was about raising the flag. We do what we do because no one else can or will do it. We fight so others can sleep at night. And I had forgotten that.